Abby Sunderland's Controversial Voyage Was For A Reality TV Show

Heard enough about Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old whose record attempt got a whole bunch of panties in a twist this past week? Too bad. Her family inked a deal for a doc and a reality show before she shoved off.

The always insightful Katie Bakes had a rational, measured response to the media hullabaloo surrounding Sunderland's voyage, disappearance, and subsequent rescue. I will be less rational, less measured.

I say: fuck that. Whoring your kid out, and not foreseeing or being able to deal with the fallout? That's Balloon Boy-level shit right there. And while Balloon Boy's parents were charged, and forced to help pay for the search and rescue efforts, the Sunderlands have no such plans.

The Australian government dispatched planes, both commercial and military to spot Abby's drifting boat. The cost? Upwards of $250,000.

What price would you put on a child's life?" Maryanne Sunderland said yesterday when questioned about compensation.

"The full cost of chartering an Airbus would be so high, you'd think they (Australian rescue authorities) would have to work with the US government for that.

"We're not wealthy people."

Maybe not, but they're a little wealthier than they were. In the run-up to Sunderland's voyage, the family inked a deal with Magnetic Entertainment, which are already hyping a documentary about her attempt, and a reality show about the family's life.

The doc, Abby's Journey:

The story at its core this is about one's Journey into adulthood, learning what it takes to be on your own, set goals and accomplish them. On the heal of seventeen year-old Zac Sunderland breaking the youngest world circumnavigation record in early 2009, we follow sixteen year-old Abby Sunderland, as she pursues her dream to become the youngest person to accomplish the feat. Originally her dream and goal, she has been waiting to fulfill her dream since she was thirteen years old while having to watch her older brother Zac set the record as youngest solo-circumnavigator first. That record having being broken by Britain's Perham in 2009, she now plans to reclaim the World Record for the Sunderland family. To do so, she is in a race to beat older Australian Jessica Watson who embarked on her own voyage three months prior to Abby.

And the reality show, (sigh) Adventures in Sunderland:

A family oriented Adventure show, based on the Sunderland Family of Thousand Oaks, CA. We follow the family in their day-to-day lives as shipbuilder Laurence Sunderland and mother/teacher Marianne try to balance work and family. Their philosophy on building strong well rounded adults is to mentor their seven home schooled children into setting goals, creating a plan to reach those goals, and implementing them... allowing each of them to pursue their dreams of becoming world class adventurers. The oldest child, Zac Sunderland currently holds the World Record for first person under 18 years-old to Solo-Circumnavigate the World and while finishing up his senior year of schooling is hot onto his next Adventure, a Motorcycle Adventure from the northern most point to the southern most point of South America. Meanwhile his 16 year-old sister, Abby Sunderland, just departed on her quest to complete a non-stop unassisted solo-circumnavigation of the world, trying to reclaim the "youngest" world record for the Sunderland family, but she must do so in a timely manner as 16 year-old Austrailian Jessica Watson has just passed the half-way mark of her attempt at the same world record. Meanwhile the family pursue their daily lives all the while providing the much needed support to their adventuring children.

And don't think this production company heard about Abby's trip, and wanted to document it. Oh no, the Sunderlands shopped the story around before she embarked, because they were, quote, "broke."

There are a lot of broke families out there. Very few of them put their child's lives at risk to gain fame and fortune. Really makes you wonder about the family's insistence that this voyage was Abby's choice.

Family cannot afford to pay back teen sailor Abby Sunderland's rescue costs: mother [Courier-Mail]
Abby Sunderland's dad had TV deal as girl risked life at sea [NY Post]